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Guéant turns spotlight on France's legal immigrants

media Interior minister wants to limit legal immigration into France Reuters/Benoit Tessier

French Interior Minister Claude Guéant says he intends to reduce legal immigration. His announcement comes just days after a controversial debate on secularism which critics say stigmitises Muslims and which is pulling the UMP party into the far-right Front National camp.


With one year before the presidential elections, the interior minister has provoked outrage with a number of inflammatory statement on immigration. On Monday he was quoted as saying “the growth in the number of muslims in France … and their behaviour was posing problems” .

Guéant now says he wants to limit legal immigration, not only by limiting the number of work visas granted each year, but also visas which permit immigrant families to reunite. He also said he intends to limit the number of political exile visas claiming that France accepts far more than Britain and Germany.

This is the first time since the election of President Nicolas Sarkozy that the government has spoken of restricting legal immigration. Until now, the focus has been on illegal immigration. On this front, Guéant wants to increase the number of explusions to 28,000 in 2 011 – up from 9,000 before 2001.

Both the Socialist Party and SOS Racism have denounced what they are calling the interior ministers's latest “provocative statements. Sandrine Mazetier, who holds the Immigration portfolio for the Socialist Party, has accused Guéant of using diversionary tactics to mask the failure of the government to address France’s high unemployment rate.


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